The environmental impact of watching a movie might surprise you

Netflix and don’t kill the planet.
movie watching energy expended
Energy spent watching your favorite movies. infographic by Sara Chodosh

Nostalgic about browsing at Blockbuster? Don’t be. Of all the ways to view a film at home, driving to a store to rent a copy consumes by far the most energy. It’s not exactly a Shyamalan twist to learn that gas-­guzzling vehicles are bad for the environment. But what if we told you that streaming uses as much juice as getting a flick in the mail, old-school ­Netflix-​style? An hour of streaming equals just over a week of light from a 10-watt LED bulb.

The networks that supply zippy internet don’t run on movie magic—­everything you do online has a carbon footprint. The above chart shows where each viewing method draws its power.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 Make It Last issue of Popular Science.